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How to Use the Super Bowl in the Classroom

Tuesday, January 29, 2013 -- Scott Sterling

A decent percentage of the planet will be watching the Super Bowl on Sunday night between the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens. And those who are not fans of football still tune in to watch the commercials. Americans view this tradition with particular reverence, as evidenced by the petition on the White House website trying to establish the day after as a national holiday.

The chances of receiving an extra day off on Monday are slim, but you can use the time wisely with these Super Bowl themed classroom activities.

History and the NFL

With few exceptions, all 32 teams of the NFL carry names that are historically or culturally significant to their hometowns. Print out the names and have the kids research how the teams came up with them. For example, something golden was happening in San Francisco in 1849 and Edgar Allen Poe spent a lot of time in Baltimore. Some teams can get complicated because they moved from another city, so watch for frustration.

Measurement is key in football

For a game played on a gridiron of 100 yards, measurement is obviously key to football. First, explain to the kids what a yard is and then find a place where they can measure out 100 of them. As many students haven’t been to an NFL or college stadium, it will be interesting for them to visualize just how big the Super Bowl field will be. Then have them measure out increments of 10 yards. That’s how far each team needs to move the ball for a first down.

The analysis of advertising

Super Bowl is the championship of football, but it’s also the championship of advertising. Companies pay up to $3 million for each 30 second spot and obviously utilize their freshest and funniest material in that space. For older students, pull up some of the clips from YouTube or other sites and have them analyze the audience that each ad is trying to engage and whether they thought it was successful or not. Some of the ads are borderline inappropriate, so make sure you preview.

Entry-level statistics

Football has built an entire industry around the statistics of their games. You can have the kids make their own predictions on statistics involving key players and then compare the results on Monday. You can also have the students track the statistics on their own while they watch the game. Did the team with the best statistics actually win the game? You can debate that on Monday morning.